Girl, 5, in intensive care as scarlet fever cases triple

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am


A five-year-old girl was said last night to be in a critical condition with scarlet fever, as figures showed the number of cases in the city has tripled since last year.

The girl is being cared for in the paediatric intensive care unit at the United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong, the Department of Health said.

She had fever, a cough, runny nose and sore throat on Sunday and later developed a bright red 'sandpaper rash' - a typical symptom of scarlet fever.

Her elder sister and little brother had also showed flu-like symptoms in the past two weeks. The department is investigating.

A doctor warned the flu season is now at its peak and could worsen the disease, which usually affects children aged between two and eight.

'The summer peak for flu has reached the highest at this point, and it is believed to remain until at least the end of June or early July,' microbiologist Lo Wing-lok said. He reminded parents and schools to be well prepared for outbreaks.

As of last week, the city had recorded 839 cases of scarlet fever since January - tripling the 274 cases in the same period last year.

Several critical cases have surfaced so far, including one of a 14-year-old girl who died in January.

A five-year-old boy was taken to the United Christian Hospital for scarlet fever last Friday and later transferred to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam. He was said to be still in a critical condition yesterday.

Two patients died last year.

Scarlet fever is caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria and spreads through close contact with an infected person, via the air or bodily fluids. It can be cured by antibiotics.

'The illness is usually clinically mild but can be complicated by shock and heart and kidney diseases,' a health department spokesman said.

The rash appears over the trunk and neck and spreads to the limbs, especially the armpits, elbows and groin.